Julien Valantin is our first French feature photographer, and as we have a Parisian HQ this is very exciting!! Julien is a dedicated, natural, passionate, gentle and romantic individual.. and when you’re looking at his images, these traits shine straight through! As usual we hope you enjoy this interview as much as we have, and on behalf of all of us here at Preset Shop we wish you a peaceful and loving Christmas.
Good vibes and endless inspiration,
Preset Shop Team
Who is Julien Valantin?
A professional photographer since 2012, I’ve been into mostly corporate and wedding photography. My hometown is Poitiers / France. I’m thirty-three. My favorite model is; of course my wife! She features on many of my images, and I’m the father of a one-year old little guy.
Where do you call home?
Home is when I open my door and I look at my wife and she looks at me and I hear my little boy laughing; that’s when I feel I’m home. But then, the world is my oyster, as English people say.
Are you self taught or schooled?
I’m self taught. After training as a technician in the industry, there was no particular reason for me to choose this career. But three years ago I bought a small Pentax SLR and almost overnight developed a passion for this media. A few months later, I bought myself a Canon 5D Mark II. It seemed only natural for me to leave my job, sell my car and motorbike, and leave for one year in Mexico where I could freely dedicate myself to my new passion for landscape and nature photography. It was also very enriching in terms of human relationships and I could make the best of my free time studying photography through technical books and magazines and also meeting other photographers. It’s only later, back in France, that I developed a real interest in portraits and started to establish my personal style.
What’s your current state of mind?
Move forward and improve, one step after another. I’ll only stop when I get bored and stop enjoying myself, which doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon. My activity as a photographer is in full bloom apparently and I have to tease and challenge that imaginative and creative part of me in order to produce fresh pictures and new feelings. My motivation is my most powerful drive: I want to achieve something that will meet my highest requirements and expectations. Never give up.
What is your secret in keeping a happy balanced life whilst following your passion?
I wish there was a secret and I knew it. Keeping a happy, balanced life in such hectic crazy conditions is a real challenge. The job is demanding and physically tiring. I may be asked to cover a wedding party for twenty hours running…with post production likely to take twice as long or even more. There’s little time left for free time or family life.. I guess the secret, if any, would be to find yourself a very clever, understanding wife, just like the one I found.. Or did SHE find me..?
Do you remember that exact moment when you knew photography was what you had to do?
I couldn’t say there was a definite starting point, no real defining moment: as I’ve already said, it just took hold of me, almost overnight, as soon as I bought my first SLR. I guess that was just a case of love at first sight.
As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in the capture of your image?
It’s a weird experience, the way you see more, sharper, brighter and all the time you know that a split second can make or break a picture, capturing the beauty and emotion of the moment and turning the picture into a trove or a frustrating and meaningless scene.
How would you describe your style?
That’s a tricky question! It took me quite a while to find it… Have I found it yet? As of today, I know I love every aspect of photography, black and white, vintage, colours, corporate, arty pictures.. But all in all, I’m still looking!
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
Being self taught, as I said before, I would say I definitely lack a photography culture and as such I am not aware of any particular influence. In this whirlwind sort of life, I have very little time to look into my fellow mates works. I console myself with the idea that it can help me see through my own eyes. But Robert Doisneau, Yann Artus Bertrand or David Bailey are great guys.
Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?
I wouldn’t change a thing: everything’s perfect.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Keep focused, listen to your instinct, be aware of the difficulties but never give up!
What’s the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you?
I’d like them to feel that passion is my main drive and that I’m ready even to confront them if I feel they’re wrong in their approach of the job they want me to do.
If you could be invisible for one day with your camera…
Oh my god! No seriously I’d probably follow my son to catch glimpses of his playful times: what’s more spontaneous and natural than a child when he’s unaware of your presence? But even more seriously, this is any photographer’s dream: in today’s world where compact cameras and smart phones are everywhere people tend to pose and grin in a split second, ruining every trace of that fleeting spontaneity you hoped to catch.
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
Canon EOS 5DII and 5DIII. Full frame… What else?
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
Sophie’s choice! But definitely my 24/70 F2.8 that one stays with me all the time it’s so polyvalent and versatile. My 50mm F1.2 would come second in my survival kit.
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?!
LightRoom 5 on MAC definitely!
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I use Photoshop very occasionally: LightRoom is a very good tool in terms of post treatment and batch processing (weddings).
Cos we just have to ask…!! What is your favourite +PS tool?? And how has it improved workflow time?
The tools “Retrograde” and “Faded” clearly are my favorites. The “Preset Shop” tool kit has saved me about two thirds of my post production time. These tools are now indispensable features in the development of my business.
Do you maintain a studio or do you rent one when needed?
I have my own studio at my home. It means a lot for me to welcome my models into a more personal environment.
Photography pet hates and why?
Pet hates? I don’t really have any so far. At that point of my career, everything seems to be a new challenge, connecting with new people, coping with new situations and learning from my mistakes. Maybe you should come back in ten years time?
Do you play music whilst shooting? If so, what are you digging right now?
All the time. Music makes you feel good, makes you unwind and the models react very positively. Essentially I dig Electro and Jazzy music. Black Yaya, Edward Sharpe or Emancipator are my main influences of the moment.
What five words would your clients use to describe you?
Proactive? Self-reliant? Sociable? Positive? Focused? Oh and very modest of course! 😉 But maybe that’s what I would like them to call me.
What lies ahead for Julien Valantin?
More travels, hopefully, maybe to Iceland, Japan and Australia, they are top on my wish list, but why not South America, Asia, New Zealand? So many dream destinations and so many more fascinating encounters.